Aleppo: Syrian rebels reopened a vital supply line by capturing two villages today from the Islamic State group as it came under pressure on a range of fronts in Syria and Iraq.
IS has controlled large areas of both countries since declaring its self-styled "caliphate" in 2014 but is losing territory in the face of separate assaults.
In Syria, pro-government forces, rebels and a US-backed Arab-Kurdish alliance are all engaged in offensives to squeeze the extremists' supply lines, while Iraqi forces are advancing on the IS-held city of Fallujah.
The Damascus regime has also kept up its assaults on opposition areas, particular in second city Aleppo, where at least 15 civilians were killed today in bombing by pro-government forces that struck near a hospital.
North of the city, rebel fighters re-opened a key supply route linking their two main bastions in Aleppo province: Marea and Azaz.
In late May, IS captured several villages between the two towns, cutting off access to the Turkish border for Marea's opposition forces.
But early today, rebels backed by Islamist groups launched simultaneous attacks from both Marea and Azaz, squeezing IS jihadists out of the villages of Kafr Kalbin and Kaljibrin and reopening the road, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Director Rami Abdel Rahman said IS fighters even pulled back from towns and villages east of the supply route, including Dudyan near the border.
Government bombing meanwhile outside the Al-Bayan hospital in Aleppo's Shaar neighbourhood killed 10 people, according to Observatory.
An AFP photographer saw bodies wrapped in bloodied white bags outside the hospital, while inside, the force of the blast had knocked supplies and parts of drywall onto the floor.
Al-Bayan hospital said a staff member was wounded in the strikes and the building had been evacuated.
According to the Observatory, five other civilians - including two children - were killed in attacks on the Al-Marja and Al-Maadi districts.
Rescue workers known as the White Helmets gave a higher toll of 23 dead in rebel-held areas.
The Observatory later reported seven rebel fighters killed in bombardment of Aleppo's eastern Al-Sakhur neighbourhood.
IS forces had long coveted Marea and battered the town for over a year with deadly car bombs and suicide attacks.